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How to present a webinar?

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I have to admit I find most of the webinars, I have attended, boring.  There just seems to be a missed opportunity in using the new media mainly because it is so often delivered in the same old way. 

I think there’s a real skill to delivering effective presentations. It’s true some people have a natural gift, while others are wise enough to attend some presentation skills training. Then there’s a third group who never acquire the skill but poor unfortunates have to sit through their presentations regardless!
In this new online world, people who have never experienced the roar of the crowd are volunteering to present ‘the webinar’.
This is still a presentation but, unlike the conference hall scenario, the presenter is delivering via the internet and the audience members are sitting at their computer screens logging in.
This adds an extra dimension, in that the presenter will find it harder to know if their audience are listening – are they bored, doodling, emailing?  Have you kept their attention or lost it? When delivering via a webinar, this is almost impossible to judge but should never be ignored.
So it becomes all the more important for a presenter that to be really effective, to engage with the audience and ensure everyone gets the most from the webinar that they work at their presentation for sometime before the recording.
Here are a few top tips for those about to embark on delivering a webinar (in fact, feel free to apply them to any presentation you may want to deliver.
  • Prepare, prepare, prepare. That way you know how long the presentation will be, you won’t overrun, and you won’t have a fidgety audience.
  • Make the delivery relevant to the audience – there’s no such thing as a one-presentation-fits-all.
  • Keep any supporting anecdotes short and sweet. In a virtual presentation, you won’t know if you’ve ‘lost’ your audience with your rambling so – rule of thumb – don’t ramble.
  • Try to use humour – it lightens the experience and helps to keep people on board.
  • Use visuals to add interest but not random clip art!
  • Use participants’ names and ask them questions too. It helps keep their attention and helps you spot anyone who might be drifting away.
  • Make the webinar as interactive as possible and allow for questions as you go along.

Just published: The Useful Guide to Public Speaking ebook published by Pansophix. Visit our website for up to date news.
If you found this article useful please contact us at matt@quicklearn.co.uk for our occasional newsletter with hints and tips for improving communications

One Response

  1. Webinars vs virtual ‘live’ training

    Dear Charley

    I agree broadly with the points you raise in your article but, personally, I tend to draw a distinction between a ‘Webinar’ which, by its nature tends to err toward one-way communication – i.e. a knowledgeable presenter expounding some theory or concepts – and virtual live training which (in my experience) is much more of a facilitated learning session and is far closer to the classroom experience.

    In the latter I would suggest the challenge is for the presenter to do less and the learners to do more!  So picking up on your final point – "Make the webinar as interactive as possible" I agree entirely.  there are many tools available under most collaborative meeting or virtual classroom packages: 

    Whiteboard exercises, Quick Quizzes, Breakout sessions, Self-discovery web ‘safaris’, collaborative documents and presentations, simulations…   and, if you are using one of the more expensive platforms, tools that allow collaborative on-line brainstorming, mind mapping and other problem solving tools are available…

    …and, of course, once we move from 2-D to 3-D virtual seminars and workshops those ‘boring’ webinars you refer to may well become a thing of the past!

    Regards

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